How Equatorial Guinea became the only Spanish speaking country in Africa

Farida Dawkins October 12, 2018
Santa Isabel Cathedral in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has quite an interesting story! It is the only African country named for its location near both the Gulf of Guinea and the Equator, making it a true equatorial destination. 

Aside from this unique namesake attribute, what makes Equatorial Guinea particularly special is that Spanish serves as its official language—unlike any other African nation. This does not come from Spain’s original colonial influence over much of Western Sahara to the northern strip of Cape Juby during the 17-1800s alone. The late 19th-century efforts established by Spanish settlers who set up profitable cacao farms hoping to generate income also played a significant role.

How Equatorial Guinea became the only Spanish speaking country in Africa

Annobon Island…Flickr

How Spanish Came to Equatorial Guinea

In 1778, Spain and Portugal agreed to a historic treaty that enabled the Spanish Empire to take control of Equatorial Guinea. This agreement kicked off a fantastic journey between two powerful nations lasting over 130 years! From then until 1810, officials from the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata—now known as Argentina—managed this newfound country before it met its fateful encounter with Britain in Bioko. 

As part of the United Kingdom’s grand scheme, they relocated their headquarters overseas while renaming the Spaniards’ territory ‘Territorios Españoles del Golfo de Guinea.’

How Equatorial Guinea became the only Spanish speaking country in Africa

Equatorial Guinea…Countries and Cities of the World in Pictures

At the start of 1900, Spanish control over Río Muni firmly established their presence in Guinea. Although this would remain until 1959 when the monarchy proclaimed it as a colony called ‘Spanish Guinea,’ its economy flourished upon growing and selling coffee and cacao—not to mention logging.

From 1946 to 1959, Portuguese rule strived for reclamation; 1960-1968 saw partial decolonization by Spain but was ultimately thwarted by brave Guineans determined to self-governance.

Diverse and Independent

On October 12th, 1968, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea declared independence, now home to seven diverse ethnicities, including Bantu, Fang, Bubi, Ndowe & more. Spanish has been an official language since 1844, but only 67.6% of people use it daily—mainly within Malabo’s capital city. Surprisingly enough, other nearby countries like Western Sahara have abandoned their roots by no longer allowing Spanish as a lingua franca, replacing its position with both Arabic and French instead.

Overall, Equatorial Guinea is an incredibly unique country. Its incredible history of being both Spanish-speaking and African makes it a truly fascinating place to explore. This country will leave you with many lasting memories with its diverse culture, beautiful landscapes, and rich heritage. 

Equatorial Guinea is the perfect place for you if you’re looking for something different from the ordinary travel destination. With its unique mix of cultures, vibrant nightlife, and delicious food, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Last Edited by:seo zimamedia Updated: January 5, 2023


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